Music written (or arranged) for harp & spoken word

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    Miriam Shilling


    Karen Johns

    I too love “The Harp of Brandiswhiere” Celtic harp suite by Sylvia Woods! The only other pieces I have seen to accompany harp concern themselves mostly with singing. You might want to look at Shirley Starke’s “Voices of The Trees” and “Songs for the White Rider”. They have a similar ‘feel’ as the Harp of Brandiswhiere. Voices of the Trees is written in lead sheet format with the verse/poetry accompanying it written separately above. I love this book because it is small enough to carry anywhere and lends itself to creativity. Good luck on your continued search- I too would like to see more of this kind of format.


    Miriam Shilling

    Thanks, Karen.


    This is not written specifically for harp, but if you like Brandiswhiere,

    Miriam Shilling

    Thank you, John, for the suggestions.


    Cool thread! I actually composed a piece for harp and spoken voice for a ballet about 25 years ago. It is set to Harold Monroe’s poem “Overheard on a Salt Marsh.” It’s this awesome fight between a fairy and a goblin over these beads she stole from the moon. Great stuff. Maybe I’ll turn it into a new You Tube!


    Henriette Renié: Fêtes Enfentines (3 pièces de noël pour harpe et diction)
    Sofia Gubaidulina: Garten von Freuden und Traurigkeiten, for flute/viola/harp/reciter)
    Regards and good luck!

    Miriam Shilling

    A big thank you to you all for giving me some great suggestions.


    Miriam, Rita Costanzi, pedal harp recording artist whose background comes from teachers Eileen Malone at Eastman, Marcel Grandjany in New York, and Jacqueline Borot in France, has written and performed several “theater pieces”. This is where she is at the harp, playing


    I forgot about Debussy’s amazing “Chansons de Bilitis” (1897) for two harps, two flutes, speaking voice, and celeste.


    Laura Sofia Carmellino has written some atmospheric short pieces that intersperse with spoken religious poetry.


    Well, I’m barely five feet (on a good day!). I got a Lyon & Healy 23 concert grand and a 17 semi-grand when I was young. I still use the 23 occasionally for orchestra when necessary, but since 1999 I’ve been primarily playing a Camac Clio. I even use it for orchestra when the music fits its range, because the extended soundboard is as wide as my 23 (I measured it). The sound carries very well and my conductor has no preference which harp I use as long as he can hear me.

    I think the 23 is more difficult to play now than when I was young because I realize I was probably twisting my body somewhat to reach the pedals while sitting high enough. My bench for that harp is 23 inches high–as high as it will go. The Camac fits me better, especially reaching the A pedal, and I like the extra room in the first octave for my hand. And when I’m sitting on the bench not playing, my feet touch the floor!

    That being said, the 17 fits me pretty comfortably. But the Clio is even more comfortable–for me.

    Some petite harpists I know like the Salvi Sinfonietta, which was a smaller concert grand. Unfortunately they’re no longer made, but used ones can be had. Can’t tell you how their weight compares to a Lyon & Healy concert grand, but the whole frame was just a little more compact so the reach was slightly less.

    Jessica Frost


    I am barely 4’11” and a half….I usually try to claim the half just so that I look closer to five feet!

    Sid Humphreys

    Hello Hannah,

    I highly recomend the Camac Clio. If you have any questions about it email Rebekah Passmore at


    I would think it sensible to have a smaller harp, such as a 15, 19, or the Concertino. It is possible to play a full-size harp, though I’ve not known anyone quite as small, but the stretching you would have to do might in time cause problems. If a smaller model makes that easier, plus its being lighter, I think it would be better. With an extended sound-board, it will have nearly as much sound. The older Lyon & Healys in smaller models can have quite a big and rich sound, even with straight sounding boards. They have one on the CPO site that is quite gorgeous. You might also consider having a custom harp made that has closer string spacing.

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